Hannah Brandt Signs With Whitecaps, Will Not Go to NWHL

Coveted free agent Hannah Brandt will not be joining the NWHL this coming season. She announced Saturday that she has signed with the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Brandt, a standout for the University of Minnesota, was selected second overall in the 2015 NWHL draft. She’s one of two high-drafted American players who have chosen the Whitecaps over the NWHL. Patty Kazmaier winner Kendall Coyne is also headed to the Whitecaps, who do not pay their players as the NWHL does, though the do cover travel costs for players.

Brandt was drafted by the New York Riveters, a team that will enter the 2016-17 season with Brandt’s former teammate Amanda Kessel, who signed the biggest contract in league history this offseason. Gopher goaltender Amanda Leveille has also signed in the NWHL.

A Gopher co-captain, Brandt put in 25 goals and a team-leading 39 assists in 36 games last year as the Gophers won their fourth national championship in the last five years. Brandt was a part of three of those championships, scoring 115 goals and 170 assists in 285 career collegiate games.

She was a Kazmaier Award finalist in all four seasons and was twice in the top-three finalist. She’s been one of the most decorated players in college hockey during her career and has played for the U.S. National Team, joining the development program in 2008. She most recently won gold with the U.S. at the 2015 World Championship, scoring three goals and five points in five games.

While the Whitecaps aren’t affiliated with one of the two major leagues, they boast a formidable roster with national team players like Monique Lamoureux, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Alex Rigsby, Jesse Vetter, Anne Schleper and, now, Brandt and Coyle.

The spotlight isn’t as bright on the Whitecaps compared to the NWHL, but it’s a roster than can skate with any of the teams in the NWHL or CWHL.